Allan Holdsworth – Backstage at Iridium Jazz Club (Part 2)

Guitarist Allan Holdsworth onstage at Iridium with Chad Wackerman on drums

BETWEEN SETS WITH ALLAN HOLDSWORTH (PART 2): caught a few minutes to chat with legendary British guitarist, Allan Holdsworth after a fierce concert at Iridium Jazz Club in New York City. Be sure to check out Part 1 of our conversation with Holdsworth if you missed it. You’re very clear on your website to specify the albums that you were actually involved in making and those that you had nothing to do with. Other than the obvious monetary concerns, what bothers you most about people who illegally record and sell your music?

Allan Holdsworth: Well, I think it bothers all artists, you know? It’s really a drag. It’s just one of the hazards of… when something comes along, like the internet, it can be used like anything else. Like a firearm, you can save somebody’s life or you can kill them with it. The internet’s a dangerous place I think, or it can be. I don’t really know what to think about it. I mean in some ways I’ve actually made more money from royalties since the internet than I did before (all of Allan’s albums are available on iTunes). But there are so many people who steal the music. Like one guy on the east coast was illegally selling my albums, my whole back catalog, with no license to do so. Plus, he was giving away, if anybody bought three albums, a live recording from a radio show that we did in Berlin. I mean it’s crazy, you know? And he [was selling] them online. But since then I think I’ve managed to stop him. But it must take real diligence these days to stop these guys – and it must feel very “out of control” when unauthorized people take some sort of claim on work that you’ve created.

Allan Holdsworth: It does. Sometimes I just want to walk away, you know? Not quit playing or anything, but walk away from even going online at all. What Allan Holdsworth album would you recommend that everyone have in their library?

Allan Holdsworth: Well… (laughs) I don’t know if “everybody” should have it (laughs). But a couple of years ago, I did a “best of” album called Against the Clock. It’s a double CD with tracks from almost everything that I’ve done – including the Django tune, “Nuages,” that you mentioned earlier. It’s a compilation album, really. You’re usually labeled as a fusion or progressive guitarist – do you think that those are accurate titles? Or would you prefer that people not try to put a label on your style?

Allan Holdsworth: I don’t know. When I think of fusion, I don’t think of what I do as fusion… only because some of the bands who play “fusion” music, I don’t like at all. But the word itself is a good word, you know, because it describes in itself accurately what it is – it’s a combination of different kinds of music. I was always heavily influenced by classical music and jazz music and some rock music, too, so it’s like a combination of stuff. But I really wouldn’t know what to call [my music]. In a way, it’s a form of jazz, but when you mention jazz, people would not generally think of the kind of music we’re playing right now, you know? Even though all of the pieces of music we play are written primarily as a vehicle for improvisation. I don’t know, I guess you get stuck with whatever they want to call you… they decide (laughs). Could you talk a bit about some of the guitars you’ve been involved with designing? Like the baritone variation?

Allan Holdsworth: Actually, I designed a couple of guitars for Carvin, which they currently sell. However, the baritone guitar was made by a custom guitar builder that I worked with for many years. It’s based on Steinbergers, really. I’ve always been a huge fan of his guitars… I think Ned Steinberger is a genius. What’s the best rhythm section you’ve ever played with?

Allan Holdsworth: (laughs) Oh, you’re going to get me into trouble now! Really, any of the current group: Jimmy Johnson and Chad Wackerman or Jimmy Johnson and Gary Husband… they’re just an unbeatable combination for me. If you had a long flight coming up, what would be on your iPod playlist for the trip?

Allan Holdsworth: Probably mostly classical music… but a lot of the time when I travel, I don’t listen to music. Sometimes I’m just an airhead….like nothing… Earplugs?

Allan Holdsworth: (laughs) yeah…exactly. What’s on the horizon for you?

Allan Holdsworth: I’m excited because I’ve been working a lot over the past couple of years and I have two albums that are unfinished… so I’m taking the whole of the summer off to finish them. So, hopefully, by the end of the year, I’ll have two new albums out. I haven’t had a new studio album out for 10 years, since 2000, so I’m playing catch up.

Learn more:

Backstage at Iridium with Allan Holdsworth Part 1

Allan Holdsworth Official Site

Iridium Jazz Club Official Site